Expected Council Action
In May, the Council is due to receive the semi-annual briefing by International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who is expected to update the Council on recent developments concerning cases in Libya.
The mandates of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the Panel of Experts (PoE) assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee expire on 16 March 2014 and 16 April 2014, respectively.
Key Recent Developments
On 14 March, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2095, extending UNSMIL’s mandate by 12 months and the mandate of the PoE for 13 months. The resolution called upon Libya to continue to cooperate fully with, and provide any necessary assistance to, the ICC and the Prosecutor as required by resolution 1970. The sanctions regime was modified by removing the requirement that the Sanctions Committee approve the use of non-lethal military equipment and assistance for humanitarian or protective use. It also removed the need to notify the Committee about non-lethal military equipment being supplied to the government for security or disarmament assistance. The resolution also urged the government to improve the monitoring of arms supplied to Libya, including through the issuance of end-user certificates.
While welcoming such positive developments as the 7 July 2012 elections, the resolution also expressed concern about continuing reports of reprisals, arbitrary detentions, torture and extrajudicial executions and called for the release and safe return of all foreign nationals illegally detained in Libya.
The work of the General National Congress (GNC) was seriously impeded in March by a series of violent demonstrations that besieged its building and attacked several members, including President Mohammed Magarief. The violence was apparently in support of a political isolation law currently under discussion in the GNC that would bar Qaddafi-era officials from holding public office.
As highlighted by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Tarek Mitri, during his 14 March Council briefing, respect for the rule of law continues to be a challenge in Libya. Although some measures have been taken to tackle this issue, mistreatment and detention without due process of several thousand people in militia-controlled detention facilities continue to be a problem.
Relations between Libya and the ICC have been tense following the request by the ICC to try Saif al-Islam Qaddafi and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi in The Hague as per the ICC referral contained in resolution 1970. Libya challenged the admissibility of both cases on 1 May 2012 claiming that they were already under investigation in Libya. After the ICC ordered Libya on 6 February 2013 to surrender al-Senussi, Libya filed a second challenge to the admissibility of the case on 2 April. An ICC Pre-Trial Chamber is expected to rule in due course regarding the challenges. (Qaddafi appeared before a local court in January and was tried on charges of undermining state security and attempting to escape from prison. At press time, he had not yet been tried on charges related to crimes allegedly committed during the uprising.)
On 23 April, a terrorist attack against the French embassy in Tripoli resulted in several injuries and severe damage. The Security Council issued a press statement condemning the attack in the strongest terms (SC/10984).
At press time, armed militiamen had blockaded and attacked at least four ministries in support of the political isolation law. In response to the pressure, the GNC suspended its sessions until 5 May when the law will be debated.
Human Rights-Related Developments
Addressing the Human Rights Council (HRC) on 20 March, the then-UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, stated that Libya was still facing considerable challenges and remained at a critical juncture. She said that the Human Rights Section of UNSMIL focused its support to the transitional authorities and civil society on five priority areas: ending conflict-related detention and preventing cases of torture and ill-treatment; strengthening the rule of law; encouraging relevant treaty ratifications and commenting on draft laws; moving forward with a comprehensive strategy on transitional justice; and promoting a human rights culture.
The following day, the HRC adopted a resolution urging Libya to continue to investigate all violations of human rights, to guarantee fair trials, to continue its efforts to prevent cases of arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment of detainees, to take further steps to protect freedom of religion and belief and to expedite the return of all persons displaced by the conflict since 2011 (A/HRC/RES/22/19).
The UN working groups on enforced or involuntary disappearances and on the use of mercenaries are due to visit Libya from 8-17 May and from 20-25 May, respectively.
An overarching issue is the fragile security situation and the impact of regional instability on Libya due to the deficient control of its porous borders. According to the final report of the PoE, most former revolutionary brigades remain in control of the weapons they used during the revolution.
Halting the proliferation of weapons stockpiled in Libya into the Sahel and beyond is a closely related issue for Council members.
A pressing issue is ensuring respect for the rule of law and reforming the legal institutions (justice system, law enforcement mechanisms and correctional facilities) in order to generate trust in the political and legal system, as well as to prevent retaliatory actions aimed at naming and shaming alleged wrongdoers without due process.
A related issue for the Council is the conflicting views of Libya and the ICC regarding the trial of the two ICC indictees and the role, if any, of UNSMIL in this context.
Another issue is to ensure the coordination between the sanctions regime and the international criminal procedures currently in place in order to allow information-sharing regarding listed individuals and prevent different procedures from undermining each other.
Options for the Council include:
- receiving a briefing and taking no action;
- issuing a statement that would aim at enhancing sanctions effectiveness by encouraging Libya to assign a focal point structure through which all security assistance procurement should be channeled, as recommended in the final PoE report; and
- asking member states to submit designation proposals to the Sanctions Committee relating to those assisting listed individuals designated under the asset freeze measures, as recommended in the final PoE report.
Arms proliferation in Libya and its consequences in the region have been a source of contention among Council members since the fall of the Qaddafi regime.
Regarding the venue for the trials of al-Senussi and Qaddafi, it seems unlikely that the Council will pronounce itself in favour of Libya or The Hague, despite its referral of the situation in Libya to the ICC. In April, there have been controversies in the Council about references to the ICC in the presidential statement on conflict prevention in Africa (S/PRST/2013/4) as well as in resolution 2100 on the situation in Mali. In this context, it is unlikely that the seven Council members that are parties to the Rome Statute would push for a Council decision.
The UK is the penholder on Libya.
UN Documents on Libya
|Security Council Resolutions|
|14 March 2013 S/RES/2095||This resolution extended UNSMIL’s mandate by 12 months and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee for 13 months.|
|26 February 2011 S/RES/1970||This resolution referred the situation in Libya to the ICC, imposed an arms embargo and targeted sanctions (assets freeze and travel ban), and establised a sanctions commitee .|
|17 March 2011 S/RES/1973||This resolution was adopted with ten votes and five abstentions and authorised all necessary measures—excluding an occupation force—to protect civilians in Libya and enforce the arms embargo, imposed a no-fly zone, strengthened the sanctions regime, and established a panel of experts.|
|21 February 2013 S/2013/104||This was the latest report of the Secretary-General on UNSMIL.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|14 March 2013 S/PV.6934||At this meeting the Council adopted resolution 2095.|
|7 November 2012 S/PV.6855||Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, briefed the Council and provided an update on the cases against Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi, a former senior intelligence official, as well as her office’s ongoing investigations in Libya.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|23 April 2013 SC/10984||This press statement condemned the terrorist attack on the embassy of France in Tripoli, Libya.|
Other Relevant Facts
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNSMIL
Tarek Mitri (Lebanon)
UNSMIL Size and Composition
Strength as of 28 February 2013: 139 international civilians; 62 local civilians; two police officers.
16 September 2011 to present